The East Wing is a part of the White House Complex. It is a two-story structure on the east side of the White House Executive Residence, the home of the President of the United States. The East Wing serves as office space for the First Lady and her staff, including the White House Social Secretary, White House Graphics and Calligraphy Office and correspondence staff. The East Wing also includes the White House theater, the visitor's entrance, and the East Colonnade, a corridor connecting the body of the East Wing to the residence. Social visitors to the White House usually enter in the East Wing.
Visitors touring the White House enter through the wood-paneled lobby, where portraits of presidents and first ladies hang. They go through the Garden Room and along the East Colonnade, which has a view of the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, past the theater to the Visitors Foyer. They enter the residence at the ground floor.
President Jefferson added colonnaded terraces
to the east and west sides of the White House, but no actual wings.
Under Jackson in 1834, running water was piped in from a spring and
pumped up into the east terrace in metal tubes. These ran through the
walls and protruded into the rooms, controlled by spigots. Initially,
the water was for washing items, but soon the first bathing rooms were
created, in the ground-level east colonnade. Van Buren had shower baths
installed here. The East Terrace was removed in 1866. For many years, a
greenhouse occupied the east grounds of the White House.
The first small East Wing was built during the Theodore Roosevelt
renovations, as an entrance for formal and public visitors. This served
mainly as an entrance for guests during large social gatherings, when
it was necessary to accommodate many cars and carriages—as well as many
cloaks and hats. Its primary feature was the long cloak room with spots
for coats and hats of the ladies and gentlemen.
The East Wing as it exists today was added to the White House in 1942
primarily to cover the construction of an underground bunker, now the Presidential Emergency Operations Center
(PEOC). Around the same time, Theodore Roosevelt's coatroom became the
movie theater. Later, offices for correspondence, calligraphers and the
social secretary were placed in the East Wing. Eleanor Roosevelt employed the first Social Secretary.
Rosalynn Carter, in 1977, was the first to place her personal office in the East Wing and to formally call it the "Office of the First Lady".
Today, the Social Secretary prepares all of the invitations and written
correspondence for every event held at the White House.
The White House Web site
White House Museum: East Wing, with floorplan and historical images